4 death penalty cases everyone should know about
This week, many of you watched our fight to save Edward Earl Johnson from execution in Mississippi. That documentary is now 30 years old, but it could have been made yesterday – even 30 years later, Edward’s execution is a stark reminder of what we’re still up against.
Edward and I were both 27 then. If I had known then what I know now, I am certain that we would have saved him and he, like me, would have lived to be 57 today. But there are many people who we can save right now – I wanted to share some of their cases with you today.
These cases represent all that is wrong with the death penalty – unfair trials, torture, authoritarian regimes crushing dissent, and clear evidence of innocence ignored. Many of those we help are running out of time. It’s up to us to defend them – without people like you and me, they have no one.
Will you help defend those facing execution?
1. Ibrahim Halawa
Thousands of people – including protestors, journalists and bloggers – are facing the death penalty in a wave of repression in Egypt. Among them is Irish student Ibrahim Halawa, who was on school holidays in Egypt when he was arrested along with his three sisters.
Ibrahim is being kept in horrific prison conditions. Despite being just 17 when he was arrested, he was beaten by the police and tortured. He faces the death penalty in a mass trial that makes a mockery of due process and human rights.
We’re fighting to save Ibrahim and bring him home to his family in Ireland.
2. Kris Maharaj
Kris is a British man who was wrongly sentenced to death in Florida. I have represented him for 24 years, and had his death sentence quashed in 2002, though he remains in prison after more than 30 years.
Now, with half a dozen people associated with the Colombian drug cartel insisting they did the crime, he finally has a chance to prove his innocence. He’s been granted a fresh hearing, based on the evidence of his innocence that we’ve uncovered.
We still have a long way to go, but now I hope now we will finally get him the justice and freedom he has long been denied.
3. Mohammed Ramadan
Mohammed is a father of three and a police officer. He was accused of involvement in an attack on other officers. But the police told him outright that they knew he was innocent, and they were punishing him as a traitor for attending pro-democracy demonstrations.
Nearly every aspect of Mohammed’s arrest, detention and trial has breached basic international human rights law. He has been tortured, refused access to legal counsel, and convicted in a trial that relied on a ‘confession’ obtained through torture.
Help save an innocent father from execution.
4. Juveniles in Saudi Arabia
Ali, Dawood and Abdullah are facing imminent execution. They were arrested and sentenced to death after pro-democracy protests swept the region. They were all children at the time. They were all tortured into ‘confessions’ and convicted in secret trials.
Their ‘crimes’ included allegedly participating in an illegal demonstration, “explaining how to give first aid to protesters”, and using a Blackberry to invite others to join the protest.
We can save Ali, Dawood and Abdullah from beheading.
To work on these cases, we need funds. We need to track down evidence, we need to get our lawyers and investigators on the ground, and we need to make sure our those we help support have the best defence possible. This is the work we do every day – and we’re very good at it.
Thank you for being part of it.
Clive Stafford Smith